How to Solve Common Tech Issues that Reduce Productivity

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This is a guest post by Joe Peters (@bmorepeters). Thank you, Joe for writing this for us.

Technology is a massive boon to your productivity and efficiency. With task management tools, you can organise your day into a simple schedule, placing crucial tasks at the head of your list, so you never miss a deadline.

With email software and instant-messaging apps, you can communicate with your team members quickly and effectively, without having to wait for them to respond to a voicemail or be available for a meeting in-person.

To make the most of the benefits offered by technology, you need to learn how to overcome the little issues that can often harm your efficiency.

Rather than automatically calling tech support every time something goes wrong with your essential tech, you’ll get more done if you take the collect, organise, do approach to solving your own IT issues.

Before You Do Anything Else: Collect Information on Your Issue

As useful as the digital world can be, it’s not foolproof. Everything from internet connectivity issues to problems with device functionality can stop you from getting work done.

Before you can start solving your own problems, you’ll need to figure out what’s going on with your tech.

Ask yourself: What’s stopping me from working right now?

If it’s your internet connection, you can troubleshoot your connectivity by right-clicking on the connection icon at the bottom right of your taskbar and clicking “Troubleshoot problems.”

If it’s something going wrong with a piece of software, go into the settings for that tool and see whether there’s a troubleshooting feature available.

If not, type your issue into the search bar on Google to find out if anyone else has encountered the problem before. You can often find helpful guides online that teach you how to fix numerous problems that commonly occur with everything from operating systems to popular devices.

Organise Your Resources

  • Once you understand what your tech problem is, think about the resources that you have to help you solve the issue. If you’re having trouble with your internet connection, free resources such as Speedtest.net will shed some light on the speed performance. Just make sure that there isn’t a device that’s hogging your bandwidth when you perform the test.

  • If your upload or download speeds aren’t as fast as they should be, then you can contact your internet service provider to find out if there’s a problem with your service. You may also be able to find out about outages by visiting the ISP’s website.

  • If there’s a specific software or hardware that’s causing headaches, see whether there are any manuals available either offline or online that can help you to tackle the problem.

  • There are plenty of technology forums out there that offer downloadable manuals for free. If you can’t find what you need in these documents, consider asking a question about your issue on a website like Quora or Reddit.

  • If the problem is that your computer performance is lower and your PC is slow, find out if you have plenty of free space on the hard-drive responsible for your operating system.

  • Search for the Microsoft System Configuration tool in your start menu by pressing Windows-R, and typing MSConfig, hit the enter key and navigate to the Services tab.There, check the manufacturer and startup item columns to find out if there are any tools you can safely disable to speed up your computer’s performance.

  • Usually, software like Spotify, Steam, and Google Update are all fine to shut down. If you’re not sure whether it’s safe to close a program, don’t disable it. Alternatively, you can go to the Startup Tab to disable high impact programs that run on startup immediately to give your PC a performance boost.

Create a List of Things to Do if You Encounter a Technical Issue

You might wonder why you would bother figuring out how to solve technical problems for yourself if you could call your IT team to do the work for you. The simple answer is that learning how to rectify these issues now makes you more self-sufficient in the future.

If you know how to solve the issues that could be damaging your productivity in a matter of seconds, you can save yourself a lot of time and disruption when something goes wrong.

It’s much easier to click on a file or hit a couple of buttons on your keyboards than call IT and wait for someone to be available to solve your problem. For instance, it might sound like a no brainer, but one of the easiest ways to fix a lot of technical issues first-time is to restart your computer.

As fundamental as the process seems, sometimes your network can get overwhelmed by a stray bit of data or code going awry. Restarting the computer gives your system a chance to refresh. While you’re at it, make sure that your operating system is fully updated by using the Windows Update service. Neglecting your updates can often deprive your computer or devices of crucial performance (and security) fixes.

Be Your Own IT Team

Rather than turning to an IT professional every time your internet connection slows down, or a program won’t open, become your own IT expert, and learn how to fix the common issues for yourself. You’ll get more done in the long-term, and you’ll also have something impressive to add to your resume when you’re looking for your next job.

Now that practically all jobs require some manner of technical skill, the quicker you start working on your tech troubleshooting knowledge, the better off you’ll be in the long-term.

Joe Peters is a Baltimore-based freelance writer and an ultimate techie. When he is not working his magic as a marketing consultant, this incurable tech junkie devours the news on the latest gadgets and binge-watches his favourite TV shows. Follow him on @bmorepeters


Thank you for reading my stories! 😊 If you enjoyed this article, hit those clapping hands below many times👏 It would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.

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My purpose is to help 1 million people by 2020 to live the lives they desire. To help people find happiness and become better organised and more productive so they can do more of the important things in life.

If you would like to learn more about the work I do, and how I can help you to become better organised and more productive, you can visit my website or you can say hello on Twitter, YouTube or Facebook and subscribe to my weekly newsletter right here.

How to overcome cyberbullying

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Another post by the fantastic Lucy Rose this week. Thank you, Lucy, for allowing me to share this.

Cyberbullying has become a huge global issue now that people are spending more and more time online, and across multiple different social media platforms. There is no doubt that social media has a great responsibility when it comes to safeguarding users from harm, but this can be hard to manage without breaching someone’s privacy.

There are however certain steps that can be taken online to put a stop to cyberbullying, and it’s important that anyone who thinks that they may be a victim of cyberbullying, seeks support and advice in order to take action and put a stop to it rather than suffer in silence. Research shows that only 38% of young peopleare willing to admit it to their parents. So this goes to show that there is still work to do in order to break the stigma and humiliation around it and to educate people on the steps to take if they think they may be a victim of cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying can affect anyone

Cyberbullying can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender hobbies or occupation, and it can affect people to different degrees of severity. Cyberbullying can be defined as “the use of digital technologies with an intent to offend, humiliate, threaten, harass or abuse somebody”. It can be very damaging to someone’s self-esteem and overall mental health, so it is important that people know how to deal with and combat cyberbullying if they think that they are being targeted.

Don’t suffer in silence

The first thing that someone should do if they think they are being targeted is to talk about it. Whether it be a friend or family member, discussing it will help to lessen the burden and enable the victim to seek much needed support and advice. If the victim is a young person of school age, it should definitely be flagged up with the schools safeguarding team so that they are aware of it and can offer support and take steps to put a stop to it. If the cyberbullying is of a serious nature, for example if someone feels as if their personal safety is threatened or the perpetrator is sharing out their personal information online, then this could be a matter for the police.

Never Respond

If someone receives an intimidating and spiteful message that intends to harm or harass the victim, then there is no doubt that this would constitute cyberbullying. The golden rule is to never respond, as this can quickly escalate the situation and make matters worse. The cyberbully is looking for someone to retaliate, so that they can continue with the torment and take it to the next level.

Screenshot for evidence

You should keep records of any offences in the form of a screen shot or by taking a picture of the screen so you can provide evidence if you need it. This would be important if it was a matter for the police or a safeguarding team at school or in the workplace.

Block and report

While it is hard for social media platforms to control and prevent cyberbullying from happening all together, most platforms do have a function to report any offensive material and to block certain contacts. So you should ensure that you block the individual in question across all social media platforms and report any offensive content. By following the above steps you can take the necessary action to stop cyberbullying in its tracks and seek much needed support along the way.

Thank you for reading my stories! 😊 If you enjoyed this article, hit the like button below👍. It would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.

My purpose is to help 1 million people by 2020 to live the lives they desire. To help people find happiness and become better organised and more productive so they can do more of the important things in life.

If you would like to learn more about the work I do, and how I can help you to become better organised and more productive, you can visit my website or you can say hello on Twitter, YouTube or Facebook and subscribe to my weekly newsletter right here.

How to become more financially responsible.

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This is a guest post by the wonderful Lucy Rose. Once again, thank you so much for doing this, Lucy.

We all reach a stage in life where we realise that it is time to start making an investment in the future. Whether that means getting a deposit together for a house or putting money away each month to save for something big or even for a rainy day, there comes a time when this will start to take more of a priority. The key to being financially responsible, put simply, is ‘living within your means’. This article will give some top tips to help you become more financially responsible, starting today.

The risks of getting into debt

Having the ability to organise your finances and plan and budget ahead requires some level of foresight and maturity. Living from day to day without thinking ahead for extended periods, significantly increases the chances that you will end up in debt with friends, family, or at worst with service providers or credit card companies.

This can be a slippery slope, as yet get further into debt and start missing bill payments it could severely affect your credit rating, which will harm your prospects and limit your opportunities for getting onto the property ladder. It’s a vicious cycle that you don’t want to get into.

Budget your income

This is the first and most important step towards becoming financially responsible, and it is something that you will need to do every month to make sure that you are covering all monthly expenses and outgoings at the same time as leaving enough money left over to buy any essentials you may need to tide you over until the next pay check. This is the basic framework that any financial success is built on.

Make a debt plan

One you start making debt payments and you can see the amount you owe decreasing every month you will start to feel a lot better and more motivated to see it through and keep the momentum going. Getting any debts paid off will be a massive weight off your shoulders, giving you much more freedom with your finances.

The first step is to get in touch with the service providers in question and organise a manageable debt payment plan with each of them directly, or if you prefer and find it easier to manage, there are ways that you can consolidate all of your debt into one and make a regular monthly payment that encompasses all of them.

Control your spending habits

This involves bringing some awareness around your expenditure; what kind of things are you spending the most money on? Are you spending too much money on buying non-essential items, i.e. things you want but don’t need? In the meantime, while you build up your finances, you will need to weed out any bad spending habits such as impulsive buys or getting sucked into sales.

If you are spending too much money on addictive substances, like alcohol or tobacco and you know that this is a massive drain on your finances, maybe it is time to start addressing any addictions you might have and getting into healthier and more sustainable habits.

A brighter future

You will find that once you have better control of your finances, you will reduce a significant source of stress and worry in your life which will leave you feeling much happier, more secure and in control. Being able to save up to buy things you need that will make your life easier or save for a holiday or weekend away to visit family or friends will mean that you can start enjoying your life more and planning for the future.


Thank you for reading my stories! 😊 If you enjoyed this article, hit that like button below👍 It would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.

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My purpose is to help 1 million people by 2020 to live the lives they desire. To help people find happiness and become better organised and more productive so they can do more of the important things in life.

If you would like to learn more about the work I do, and how I can help you to become better organised and more productive, you can visit my website or you can say hello on Twitter, YouTube or Facebook and subscribe to my weekly newsletter right here.

What’s the best predictor of success?

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This is a guest post by Emily Heaslip and originally appeared on Vervoe.com

I’ve always struggled with the term ‘soft skills.’ Having technical skills (hard or ‘critical’ skills as they’re called) backed up by higher education, along with positional authority, are to a great degree predictive of success. However, it’s been my experience that inter-relational skills (soft) are just as if not more predictive of success. Anything I’ve ever accomplished in my career to this point (both personally and professionally) has been because of an ability to get things done through and with people.

The data backs me up on this perspective and has for some time. These inter-relational skills are critical and are in demand in nearly every company and every industry. A Wall Street Journal survey of 900 executives found that 92% said these kind of skills were equally important or more important than technical skills. But 89% of those surveyed said they have a very or somewhat difficult time finding people with these kind of attributes. Likewise, LinkedIn’s 2018 Workforce Report discovered that the four most in-demand inter-relational skills are leadership, communication, collaboration, and time management.

Are inter-relational skills a better predictor of success? According to Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence at Work, yes! His research of 500 executives found that emotional intelligence was a better predictor of top performance than previous experience or IQ. Additionally, CEOs at some of the world’s top companies (Amazon, Xerox, and Tesla, to name a few) lead with emotional intelligence and have designed their entire corporate structure around these kind of skills.

The majority leadership style today in this country is still directed authority and those who have this skill often assume that inter-relational skills are only good for creating a fulfilling and pleasant work environment. However, the link between profit and leaders with high emotional intelligence is clear. In one study, CEOs whose employees rated them high in character had an average return of 9.35% over a two-year period, nearly five times as much as companies with CEOs who had low character ratings. The case for recruiting for these kind of skills is strong, and there’s something to be said for balancing good leadership and communication with individuals who have honed their talent.

This is not to say that hard skills should be ignored. Without specifically required knowledge, achieving desired objectives is very difficult. Cal Newport, author of So Good They Can’t Ignore You, believes that to have a successful career, you must develop skills that make you an expert in something. There will always be a market for those with a depth of knowledge in one thing and certain fields will always demand new hires with niche skills and technical training. Newport argues that the more mastery you have in a skill or field, the more control and satisfaction you’ll have over your career.

While it’s true that technical masters do become top CEOs (Steve Jobs and Bill Gates for example), other experts note that eventually, inter-relational skills and emotional intelligence must be learned. Many programmers, for example, have some of the basic hard skills that it takes to run a company but fall short on key EQ traits like listening.

Truth be told, the best leaders that started out as experts in their field, can and do learn and acquire really good inter-relational skills over time.

Thank you for reading my stories! 😊 If you enjoyed this article, hit that like button below 👍 It would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.

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My purpose is to help 1 million people by 2020 to live the lives they desire. To help people find happiness and become better organised and more productive so they can do more of the important things in life.

If you would like to learn more about the work I do, and how I can help you to become better organised and more productive, you can visit my website or you can say hello on Twitter, YouTube or Facebook and subscribe to my weekly newsletter right here.

Moving Toward Success In Life by Focusing on Responsibility

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This is a guest post by the fabulous Lucy Rose.

As Ernest Hemingway once said, “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” Self-improvement is the development of self-awareness, allowing you to change your habits, build the best version of yourself, and as a result, enhance your quality of life. However, it is not a quick fix, and takes continuous and honest effort. Through the help of coaches, books, and communities, you can get what you need to foster self-improvement. The first step starts with you. Invest in a coachread books, gather a supportive community or combine these steps to help improve yourself. But first, determine what needs to be improved.

Looking into the Mirror

One of the best steps towards self-improvement is to self-reflection. What are your strengths and weaknesses? What are some unresolved issues that have played a pivotal role in how you go about your daily life? The key to engaging in self-reflection is to be completely honest with yourself. It can be easy to let ego get in the way of seeing what areas of yourself can be improved. It’s important to develop self-awareness and set goals for potential growth. Self-reflection sometimes involves others as well. Asking friends and family for feedback can give insight to how others perceive you. It is always easier to focus on the good aspects of one’s self rather than the negative. However, a key factor in self-improvement involves a careful focus on responsibility.

Learning to be Accountable

Taking responsibility means having accountability not only for your actions, but for your life. Going forth in improving yourself, you have to mature. Stop blaming other people or situations for misfortunes and negative outlooks on life. Life is unfair and although you could have been the victim and those feelings and thoughts may be justified, where does blaming get you? It only leads to resentment and powerlessness blocking you from living a more fulfilling life. In the end, your life is about you, not them. Reclaiming this power will only make your life better.

Accepting responsibility also accepts emotions as a part of daily life. Acknowledge your emotions, the positive and negative. No one can be happy all the time. Thus we have to make sure we realise what actions we are taking when we feel emotions. Taking responsibility of your emotions and being honest with yourself allows you the opportunity to improve yourself.

Responsibility over one’s action and mind means a variety of things. Having a consistent sleep schedule, eating healthy, exercising regularly, avoiding toxic influences, reflecting on one’s self. One of the most important realisations of taking responsibility for your life is having integrity and credibility for yourself and for others. You can’t take responsibility if you do not follow through with actions you determine will improve your life. It’s important to stick to your word. This will help you stay focused on your goals and ambitions. By taking responsibility for you own initiative, responsibility for your own success.


Thank you for reading my stories! 😊 If you enjoyed this article, hit that like button below👍. It would mean a lot to me and it helps other people see the story.

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My purpose is to help 1 million people by 2020 to live the lives they desire. To help people find happiness and become better organised and more productive so they can do more of the important things in life.

If you would like to learn more about the work I do, and how I can help you to become better organised and more productive, you can visit my website or you can say hello on Twitter, YouTube or Facebook and subscribe to my weekly newsletter right here.

Maintaining Culture and Efficiency With Remote Workers.

This is a guest post by Rae Steinbach Thank you, Rae, for writing this for me. 

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While the traditional office might not be a thing of the past, the relationship many employees have to these shared work environments is changing. According to a report from IWG, 70% of employees are working remotely at least one day a week, and 53% are doing at least half their work at a location other than the office.

Some companies have embraced the shift toward remote work and have smoothly transitioned to more flexible arrangements. For managers that have a more traditional outlook, the trend of increased work away from the office is troubling. The primary concern for many of these managers is the worry that they will not be able to effectively manage employees if they are not in the office with them.

This concern is understandable, but there are significant benefits that can come with allowing employees to work away from the office. Many employees today prefer the flexibility that comes with being able to do work elsewhere. They may have family obligations or are indulging in the digital nomad lifestyle. Allowing for remote work can be an incentive that helps businesses attract top talent when hiring. In fact, 74% of employees said they would leave their current job for one that allows for more remote work.

Culture and Remote Work

Creating and maintaining a culture can be difficult when employees do not regularly share the same physical space. However, you need to remember that culture is not bound to a location; it is a set of values, beliefs, and ideals that your company keeps alive with various practices. Some of these can be performed remotely, like all-hands meetings via video calls. Sharing a common work environment might be an advantage for culture, but it is not a necessity. Company leaders just need to take steps to keep the culture in place for employees that work away from the office.

If you have offices, they should still play a role in the working life of employees. One way to do this is to set a minimum number of days per month that have to be spent in the office. You can also do things to make the office a more attractive work environment. If workstations are comfortable and have all of the tools an employee could need, like green plants and standing desks, your people might prefer to spend more time there.

Team events are another good way to make sure employees get some in-person time with each other. Face-to-face meetings are beneficial for building team cohesion, so try to get your employees together as a group. Hold training seminars to get everyone together; if the company is reaching an important milestone, celebrate as a team. These events can be great for building connections and maintaining a vibrant work culture.

Remote Worker Productivity

Some leaders might worry about a drop in productivity if they let their employees work outside the office. For the most part, the keys to avoiding this are to make sure employees understand your expectations and to instill accountability as an important part of the company culture.

For example, the management by objectives process encourages managers and employees to set goals together, and share progress regularly. This then allows leaders to have a more accurate idea of how remote workers are performing and reaching key objectives.

Working remotely comes with its own set of skills, so create trainings that ensure communication and performance remain as fluid as if everyone was working in house. For some employees, skills like time management will come naturally, but this is not true for everyone. If you want your employees to have success as remote workers, check-in regularly to see if these need to be changed or refreshed.

Managers can also leverage technologies that can simplify remote work. Modern communication technology offers a range of platforms that can make it easier to stay in contact with remote workers, and there are project management applications that can be used to ensure collaborative work stays on track.

Finally, hold regular in-person (or video) meetings to give everyone a chance to check in. The frequency and format of these meetings will depend on the specific culture and work-cadence at your company, but assemble everyone as often as is practical to go over the progress they are making on key projects. These meetings are also a fantastic opportunity for employees to give updates and appreciations to each other, and for managers to provide important news about the company.

Remote work shouldn’t be viewed as a compromise by management. When done well, it can be a way to increaseproductivity and allow people the space needed to access more creativity. As a leader, you just need to take the right steps to build a culture where people want to perform and produce for the good of all.

Rae is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content for the HR industry. Her specialization is in performance management and leveraging team talent for the future of work. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing, of course.

Using Personal Roles to Organize Files and Evernote Tags

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This is a guest post by Ernie Hayden. Read more from Ernie right here and see his photos here.

In the early phases of my productivity journey I read Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, listened to Getting Things Done Fast CDs by David Allen, and listened to Tony Robbins’ The Time of Your Life cassettes. Please note this was circa 1998 or so and the Internet was not an active idea and there was no such thing as YouTube, streaming videos, productivity websites, etc. Basically, if you wanted to develop your productivity skills you needed to listen to cassette tapes, CDs, maybe watch some VHS videos, and of course, read books.

Sounds pretty amazing, doesn’t it?!

Tony Robbins’ program, The Time of Your Life, included and idea that has stuck with me for the past 20 years that I still use today. The idea revolves around what your key roles are in life.

YOUR KEY ROLES CAN BE AN EFFECTIVE WAY TO ORGANIZE YOUR SCHEDULE

Tony’s idea regarding roles is centered on developing a weekly plan. Tony tasks the listener to make a list of all the roles you are “assigned” either voluntarily or due to your position in life. Then, using these roles, actions can be assigned to each identified role with associated outcomes. Then, as you look at your weekly plan you take each role and assign an outcome/action to each day of the week.

In summary, the weekly plan has a general structure as shown below:

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The matrix above is to help you schedule your outcomes/actions based on your roles.

Admittedly, I’ve not been a disciplined follower of this approach, but I’ve carried away an organizational approach using roles that I thank Tony Robbins for even today.

STEP 1: IDENTIFY ALL THE ROLES YOU FILL

The exercise is actually fun but not as obvious as you think. The task ahead of you is to make a list of every role you fill in your day-to-day life.

Below I share my current list of roles (with some minor editing) to give you some ideas.

EXAMPLE ROLES

Employment Related

• Employee

• Consultant

• Leader/Manager

• Salesman/Seller

Personal-Related

• Husband-Father-Son

• Citizen

• Consumer

• Family Historian

• Friend & Mentor

• Home — Auto Owner

• Learner/Student

• Medical-Patient

• Money Manager

• Pet Owner

• Photographer

• Spiritual/Religious

• Teacher/Speaker

• Traveler

• Writer/Author

In my case, this is a general list of my current roles that I’ve been referencing over the past 10 years or so. These roles have become the foundation of my computer file system as well as my Evernote Notebooks/Tags.

USING THESE ROLES AS A FOUNDATION FOR FILE ORGANIZATION

So, how do I use these roles for filing? Organizing?

The approach is quite simple.

I use the list of roles identified above and simply make folders in My Documents in my computer (pre-Evernote) titled with each role. I then put sub-folders into each role folder for related files and information.

Below is a screen shot of the actual list of folders in My Documents reflecting my roles:

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Of note, the numbers are used to organize the folders in an order I prefer based on my activity and use of the folders. You can use numbers or “@” or “#” or “^”, etc. to help sort your folders to your liking.

USING ROLES IN EVERNOTE

In my productivity journey, Evernote is relatively new, even though I’ve been using Evernote since June 2011. That said, I initially began Evernote in a haphazard manner and failed to realize the strength of the tags and the search engine. But, thanks to Carl Pullein’s YouTube videos on ways to use Evernote I’ve learned a lot and was awakened to the possibility of using my “roles” for tag assignments in Evernote.

Admittedly, I’ve got some ways to go before I’ve made a complete integration of my roles into Evernote, but it is on my Todoist list!

AN ORGANIZATIONAL SIDE NOTE

You may be wondering how I use my “roles” for reference files. Well, I don’t. Instead I have developed a series of reference or “REF” folders strictly for reference materials. However, I tend to use these folders less and less as I move my reference materials to Evernote.

In case you are interested my REF folders are in the screenshot below:

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EXAMPLE USE

So, how do I use this system? I literally began by taking each item in my “Collection System” (thanks to David Allen!) and ask the two questions: “What is it?” and “Is it actionable?” Yes, I still have my project folders but generally for any reference materials or incubation or archiving I think about what “Role” the paper/email/document belongs. Then, I will file the item into the Role file/Role Sub-file as appropriate.

Later, when I am wondering about the location of an item I simply think about what “Role” the paper/email/document belongs then do a focused search in My Documents and/or Evernote or GDrive if needed.

CONCLUSION

Please understand that this article is simply to give you some ideas on ways to organize all the myriad of “things” we collect in our lives. This is one way I’ve used for at least 10 years and I will admit that as I learn new ideas on using Evernote from Carl and Francesco, I make some edits and tweaks. Overall, though, my structure and approach to file management is still a role-based system.

I hope you find this useful and if you wish, please send me the Skype number and email of your favorite psychiatrist!

Notes:

1) The graphics are developed using SnagIt 2018.

2) The Getting Things Done Fast CDs produced by David Allen are no longer available; however, if you ever have a chance to listen to them, do it! They are a fantastic resource.